The appetite for old-vine material is growing in California. Wineries such as Turley, Carlisle and Bedrock have saved these vineyards from extinction and replanting with more profitable varieties. Their project – the historic vineyard society – represents the deep cultural value of heritage. There are few places where that heritage can manifest physically: architecture, visual art, and vineyards are amongst the most exciting. Heritage informs the meaning of both a place and a society by their trajectory through time. If you erase heritage you lose the content of ideas and values. This important function is something we are at serious risk of losing in Vancouver and I am glad for wines like this to remind me of its importance.
Lightness with Age
The Bechthold vineyard is in Lodi, a region that had vineyards spared the blight of prohibition and lacked the fashionability of places like Napa Valley such that an own-rooted Cinsault vineyard survived for over a 100 years. Planted in 1886, Bechthold is the oldest Cinsault vineyard in California. Contrary to the stereotype for old vines, these centenarians make a lighter, highly aromatic wine with supple texture. Body is not the driving force here, but instead perfume and balance complete this outstanding wine.
A good friend of mine who is not a wine geek described his experience drinking this as “like falling back into a pillow”. I think that’s one of the most on-point wine descriptions I’ve heard in a long time.
$48 USD Purchased from the wine list at SF’s The Progress (otherwise only available at the winery tasting room)